Our New Book: Useful, Usable, Desirable

By designing your library with the user experience in mind, you have the potential to deepen the connection your library has with its community, and make your library a place that people love to use.

Amanda Etches and I wrote a book to help you do just that.


The book is a practical guide to assessing and improving all sorts of touchpoints in your library, and also covers foundational UX theory. Each chapter deals with a different part of the library and provides a list of checkpoints that you can use to assess how your library is doing. Each checkpoint states why we think is important, and tells you how to improve your score (should that be necessary). Yes, there’s even a scoring system.

As the subtitle says, this is about applying user experience design to your library. Think of it is as a big heuristic evaluation for the whole library, with supporting information about why UX matters, some practical user research methods, and helpful tips on design thinking. Check out the table of contents below to see what’s covered.

What’s more, I’ve been told that the book is “genuinely entertaining.” Not bad, right? Big thanks to Amanda for making the writing process fun, and for making the book really great!

You can ILL it via WordCat (or locally maybe!), buy it on Amazon, or at ALA’s store.

Table of contents:

1. Introducing Library User Experience
1.1 What Is User Experience Design?
1.2 Why UX for Libraries?
1.3 The Trinity of Good UX
1.4 The Principles of Library User Experience Design
1.5 How to Use This Book
1.6 A Note on Terminology

2. User Research Techniques in This Book
2.1 Attitudinal and Behavioral Research
2.2 Other User Research Techniques
2.3 Additional Reading

3. Physical Space
3.1 The Library Building Is Clean and Functions as Intended
3.2 The Library Building Is Free from Clutter
3.3 Furniture Adequately Supports Member Needs
3.4 The Building Supports Diverse Behaviors
3.5 Members Have Easy Access to Power Outlets

4. Service Points
4.1 Members Readily Approach Service Desks
4.2 Service Desks Adjust to Changing Needs
4.3 Members Receive Assistance When and Where They Need It
4.4 Members Receive the Kind of Assistance They Need
4.5 Additional Reading

5. Policies and Customer Service
5.1 Your Library Has a Service Philosophy
5.2 Your Staff Members Know and Live Your Service Philosophy
5.3 There Is as Little Policy as Possible
5.4 Library Policies Empower Staff
5.5 Staff Members Are Friendly and Genuinely Want to Help
5.6 Service Is Consistent across Departments and Modalities
5.7 Service Is Consistent across the Organization

6. Signage and Wayfinding
6.1 Your Library Has a Brand Manual That Is Consistent with the Principles of Graphic Design
6.2 All Signage Uses the Same Visual Language
6.3 Different Types of Signs Are Visually Distinct
6.4 There Are as Few Signs as Possible
6.5 There Are No Paper Signs Taped to Walls, Doors, Tables, Computers, or Any Other Surfaces
6.6 Regulatory Signs Are Written in a Plain, Polite, and Friendly Manner
6.7 Library Cards Contain Useful Information and Employ the Library’s Visual Language
6.8 First-Time Visitors Can Easily Locate All Parts of the Library
6.9 Additional Reading

7. Online Presence
7.1 Members Can Easily Search for Library Items and Place Holds
7.2 Members Can Easily Accomplish Critical Tasks
7.3 The Size of Your Website Is Commensurate with the Amount of Effort You Can Devote to It
7.4 Web Content Is Engaging
7.5 Content Is Written for the Web
7.6 Website Employs Web Design Conventions
7.7 Home Page Clearly Expresses What People Can Do on Your Site
7.8 Website Is Easy to Use on All Devices
7.9 Website Employs the Library’s Visual Language
7.10 You Use Social Media in Meaningful Ways
7.11 Additional Reading

8. Using the Library
8.1 The Technology in Your Library Is Relevant, Useful, and Usable
8.2 Collections Are Relevant to Member Needs
8.3 Marketing Materials Are Relevant to Member Needs
8.4 You Merchandize Your Materials
8.5 Library Services and Programs Solve Problems
8.6 Additional Reading

9. Wrapping Up: Philosophy, Process, and Culture
9.1 Whole Library Thinking
9.2 The Design Process
9.3 Your Organizational Culture
9.4 Parting Words

For Sale: Library Logo/Barcode iPhone Cases


Put your library’s logo and patron barcodes on iPhone 5/s cases. Great summer reading prize giveaways and Friends’ fundraising items.

More info on Influx’s site

Random background info

This idea is a response to the type of library-chic fetishization that Jessamyn wrote about so well here. Don’t get me wrong, I like geeky library pride stuff as much as the next librarian. But I figured: why not making something in the same vein that promotes actual libraries and encourages library use?

Decision Notebooks For Sale

decisions notebooks

Here’s another notebook for jotting down all of your great library improving ideas!

They measure 3.5″x5″ and contain 32 pages of dotted grid pages. Optimized for brainstorming, they fit in your pocket so you can have one you wherever you go. I think it is best one yet!

$3 each
$8 for 3
$25 for 10
(plus some modest shipping charges!)


Influx Library User Experience Newsletter

Sign up now and get in on the ground floor! Newsletter 001 is about to make its way into inboxes, and there’s a little reward for everyone signed up before it is sent.

What to expect from this newsletter

We will send you UX related links that we find interesting. Maybe a little bit of original content will sneak in on occasion. Whatever the case, we’re aiming quality over quantity. (Yes, just like we advocate for libraries – not only only their websites but also programs and services too). This is an experiment and we’ll adjust it as we go along.

Putting it together felt different than preparing content for this site, so it’ll be different but I can’t quite put my finger on how it will be different. If you like this site, you’ll like the newsletter. Or your money back!

Whatever the case, it will be 100% non-spammy and we’ll give it our 100% to make it interesting and informative!

You should sign up now.

I Was Interviewed

Karen Lauritsen is a rad librarian at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. Check out her TedxUCLA talk called Libraries Can Be Loud.

Last month we had a little conversation and she posted it to her site Maths and Arts. If you like read this site you might like the post: An interview with Aaron Schmidt of Walking Paper about user centered design for libraries.

Thanks for the interview, Karen!

Introducing Prefab: the Library Website Service

I’m super excited to announce a new project from Influx:
Prefab: the library website service.

Prefab is a ready to launch website designed for libraries. We’ve designed an amazing library website so you can concentrate on developing awesome content.


How it works

Sign up, fill in your content, launch. All in the same day, if you’re motivated!

Prefab is designed for libraries:

  • Easy catalog search integration
  • Simple item promotion
  • Events advertising space
  • Responsive design – looks great on all devices
  • Powered by WordPress
  • Easy links to social media profiles

What you get with Prefab:

  • Hosting
  • A back end training session
  • Email and phone support
  • Information Architecture and navigation suggestions
  • Help arranging your domain


Stop the madness

Libraries across the country are all working – with limited resources and skills – to solve the same, basic library website design problems. It makes no sense! So we did the design work and created a template that’s appropriate for many different libraries.

There’s a lot more information at the Prefab page on Influx’s site.

Many thanks to Running in the Halls for their assistance with the theme development.

Need an amazing library website fast? Check out Prefab now.

rainbow copy

Please Take This Summer Reading Program Survey

I’m working with PLA on a project exploring the future of summer reading programs. As part of our research we created a summer reading programs survey.

Getting a lot of responses will help make the project a success so if you’re not the expert about your library’s summer reading program I hope you’ll pass on the survey’s URL to the person in your library that does.


Take the Summer Reading Survey.